Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Survey Shows Importance of MADD's Work to End Drunk Driving

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released a National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors confirming the importance of MADD's work to eliminate drunk driving and keep alcohol out of the hands of kids.

"The survey makes one thing very clear: drunk driving remains a primary threat to the American family," said Laura Dean-Mooney, MADD National President. "This means that MADD's work won't be done until cars are turned into the cure, eliminating drunk driving forever."

While drunk driving fatalities have dropped nearly 44 percent since MADD's inception 30 years ago, four out of five persons surveyed still consider drinking and driving as a major threat to their personal safety. The survey also showed support for in-car breathalyzers, known as ignition interlocks, as well as sobriety checkpoints, both key parts of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®.

"It is gratifying to see that Americans overwhelmingly support MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®," said Dean-Mooney.

The campaign aims to protect families by supporting the heroes who keep our roads safe through high-visibility law enforcement; requiring convicted drunk drivers to blow before they go with the use of ignition interlock devices; and turning cars into the cure through the development of technology that automatically determines whether or not the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and failing to operate if the driver is impaired.

The survey also shows that underage drinking remains a significant problem among America's youth. When young people decide to combine drinking and driving, they do so after drinking heavily.

"We know that the younger kids start drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to become drunk drivers," said Dean-Mooney. "This data reiterates that point and makes it clear that parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of drinking underage early and often."

Understanding that parents are the number one influence in their child's decision to drink, MADD launched a new program with the support of Nationwide Insurance called Power of Parents, It's Your Influence®. The program provides parents the tools necessary to talk to their children about alcohol.

"Ultimately, the survey just emphasizes the importance of MADD's work," said Dean-Mooney. "We must continue our work to make American families safe from the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking - lives are at stake."

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CDC Study Finds Annual Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes Exceeds $99 Billion

/PRNewswire/ -- In a one-year period, the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with injuries from motor vehicle crashes exceeded $99 billion - with the cost of direct medical care accounting for $17 billion, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total annual cost amounts to nearly $500 for each licensed driver in the United States, said the study in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

The one-year costs of fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries totaled $70 billion (71 percent of total costs) for people riding in motor vehicles, such as cars and light trucks, $12 billion for motorcyclists, $10 billion for pedestrians, and $5 billion for bicyclists, the study said.

CDC researchers used 2005 data because, at the study time, it provided the most current source of national fatal and non-fatal injury and cost data from multiple sources.

"Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries, and nearly 40,000 people die from these injuries each year. This study highlights the magnitude of the problem of crash-related injuries from a cost perspective, and the numbers are staggering," said Dr. Grant Baldwin, director of CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The study also found:

-- Costs related to fatal motor vehicle-related injuries totaled $58
billion. The cost of non-fatal injuries resulting in hospitalization
amounted to $28 billion, and the cost of injuries to people treated in
emergency departments and released was $14 billion. More men were
killed (70 percent) and injured (52 percent) in motor vehicle crashes
than women. Injuries and deaths among men represented 74 percent ($74
billion) of all costs. Teens and young adults made up 28 percent of
all fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle injuries and 31 percent of the
costs ($31 billion). These young people represented only 14 percent of
the U.S. population.
-- Motorcyclists made up 6 percent of all fatalities and injuries but 12
percent of the costs, likely due to the severity of their injuries.
Pedestrians, who have no protection when they are hit by vehicles and
are also often severely injured, made up 5 percent of all injuries but
10 percent of total costs.

Motor vehicle crash injuries and deaths and the associated costs are preventable. CDC's Injury Center supports proven, effective strategies for prevention such as:

-- Graduated driver licensing (GDL) policies: these laws allow new teen
drivers to get experience on the road in lower-risk situations as they
gain experience over time and are proven to reduce teen crashes.
Strong GDL laws have been associated with up to 40 percent decreases
in crashes among 16-year-old drivers.
-- Child safety seat distribution and education programs: increased use
of correctly installed and fitted child safety seats could help reduce
the $3.6 billion annual bill for injuries to children, the cost number
found in this study.
-- Primary seat belt laws: these laws allow motorists to be stopped and
cited for not wearing seat belts. Seat belts reduce the risk of death
to those riding in the front seat by about half.
-- Enhanced seat belt enforcement programs: Enhanced enforcement programs
in which law enforcement officers focus on getting people to buckle up
(e.g.: Click It or Ticket), are effective at increasing safety belt
use and reducing deaths and injuries.
-- Motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws: helmets can reduce the risk of
death in a motorcycle crash by more than one-third and reduce the risk
of brain injury by 69 percent.
-- Sobriety checkpoints: these checkpoints, where drivers are stopped to
assess their level of alcohol impairment, can reduce alcohol-related
crash deaths by more than 20 percent.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seniors Slam Car Company Efforts to Escalate a Repair Parts Monopoly That Harms Older Americans

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, RetireSafe President Thair Phillips, representing 400,000 older Americans, slammed the car companies' latest effort to enhance their monopoly over repair parts and car repairs. "There is a certain irony that after a year-long parade of car company recalls, a number of car companies are attacking aftermarket repair parts in an effort to push their own, usually much more expensive repair parts," Phillips said. "In the toughest economy since the Great Depression, seniors and all American consumers count on having the money-saving choice of high-quality aftermarket parts to repair their vehicles," he stressed. Phillips called recent statements by Hyundai and Honda pushing Hyundai Genuine Parts and Honda Genuine Parts, "shameless efforts to strangle vital competition that we absolutely need to have more of in the automotive marketplace."

He noted that "after billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts and 'Cash-for-Clunkers' sales promotions that we paid for to push new car sales for them, it's even more insulting to have car companies bash far less expensive, high-quality aftermarket parts which are certified to be safe and more often than not, made by the very same parts makers who make the original equipment parts." Phillips continued, "These same companies even attack perfectly good recycled parts - parts from vehicles they originally sold."

"Consumers pay a huge price for these car company repair parts monopolies, and Congress should act to protect the older Americans held hostage by these automotive shakedowns," he stated. "RetireSafe has long supported legislation that would do just that in both the U.S. House and Senate," Phillips said. He urged Congress to immediately "pass H.R. 3059 and S. 1368, the Access to Repair Parts Act."

"It's time for Congress and the White House to stand up for seniors by putting a stop to car company monopolies that destroy competition, harm consumers, and eliminate free choice in the marketplace," Phillips concluded.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Extreme Heat May Increase Vehicle Fire Threat

/PRNewswire/ -- The extreme heat experienced in communities across the U.S. makes conditions ripe for vehicle fires. State Farm reminds car owners to be vigilant and have their autos inspected and properly maintained during severe hot weather.

"Nobody wants to be that person standing by the side of the road watching helplessly as their car is engulfed in flames. And the very hot conditions across the country increase the chance of a vehicle fire--especially in older models," said Tom Hollenstain, research administrator at the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility. "But if you keep your car in good operating condition, you'll do a lot to help avoid that danger."

The National Fire Protection Association® says most highway vehicle fires occur in the months of July and August on Friday afternoons. This report also cited mechanical or electrical failure (leaks, breaks, worn-out parts) as causing approximately 49 percent of U.S. highway vehicle fires.

To lessen the likelihood of a highway vehicle fire, State Farm recommends the following car care tips:

-- Engine Coolant - Maintaining the coolant at the proper level is vital
during hot summer weather. Refer to the vehicle's owner's manual for
additional instruction or consult with an automotive technician. Never
remove the engine's coolant cap if the vehicle has been in operation.
-- Engine Oil Level - Motor oil is the life blood of the engine. It not
only provides lubrication, it also assists in engine cooling.
Maintaining the oil level at the proper range will reduce the chances
of engine damage or failure.
-- Belts & Hoses - During hot weather, additional stress is placed on the
engine's belts and hoses. Gaskets and seals may leak, hoses might
deteriorate, and belts could become brittle causing oil consumption to
increase. A failed hose or broken belt may cause the engine to
overheat. Before turning on the engine, inspect the belts and hoses
for unusual wear and cracks.
-- Keep it Clean -- Have the engine degreased to cut down on the buildup
of oil and grease.
-- Slow and Easy - All vehicles should be driven easier during hot
weather. If there is a heat advisory, motorists should try to avoid
heavy traffic, idling, high speeds and aggressive driving, all of
which contribute to the vehicle's engine overheating.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Study: How to Increase Federal Highway Investment by $10 Billion a Year Without a Tax Increase

/PRNewswire/ -- Where can we find the money to modernize and maintain our major highways? The federal government would have an additional $10 billion a year to spend on crucial highways if it stopped diverting federal gas tax money to projects with no national benefits, according to a new Reason Foundation study.

The federal gas tax was supposed to be used to build and maintain the Interstate Highway System. Today auto and truck drivers pay federal gas taxes that are diverted to ferryboats, trails and mass transit programs. Since these other programs aren't national, are unable to generate significant user revenues and require large subsidies, the Reason Foundation report says they should be funded by state and local governments. The 18.4 cents a gallon federal fuel tax should be refocused on rebuilding and modernizing vitally important Interstates.

"Sooner or later Congress is going to have to deal with the highway bill and the major shortfall in highway investment," said Robert Poole, principal author of the report and director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. "It is time to rethink and refocus the federal transportation role more on core federal purposes and less on peripheral concerns. Congress could dramatically increase funding to reduce the large backlog of cost-effective highway projects by shifting non-highway programs either to states or to general revenues. This would restore the users-pay/users-benefit principle of the Highway Trust Fund by focusing on rebuilding and modernizing the Interstate system. This Interstate 2.0 approach would increase federal investment in the nation's most important arteries by nearly $10 billion a year without raising taxes."

The study explains how refocusing the Highway Trust Fund can restore the public's trust in infrastructure spending, which has been severely damaged by too many bridges to nowhere. Along with needed investment in an Interstate 2.0 system, the proposal would also reduce federal mandates and give states more control over their transportation spending. The Interstate 2.0 approach would give states incentives to reduce waste and administrative costs; prioritize projects that will produce the largest benefits; embrace public-private partnerships that shift financing and risk away from taxpayers and onto private investors; and utilize technology, tolling, and congestion pricing to produce a sustainable, user-pays 21st-century highway system.

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